Selebi to use the Zuma defence

By Daily Maverick Legacy 5 October 2009

It’s like déjà vu all over again. The corruption trial of former police commissioner Jackie Selebi that begins today is set to involve at standoff between two branches of the state, telephone taps, endless appeals and something called “a generally corrupt relationship”. The battle is the culmination of hostilities between the police and the National Prosecuting Authority and is perhaps the last gasp of the organisation which pursued the man who is now president of South Africa. Selebi is likely to plead not guilty to three charges of corruption and one of defeating the ends of justice, a case founded on the notion that he abused his position of authority and was party to corruption. The NPA apparently has at least 66 witnesses ready to take the stand, including several former and current top policemen and business people connected with Selebi . These may or may not include businessman Brett Kebble. The notion is that Selebi enjoyed a, wait for it, "generally corrupt" relationship with these businessmen. Key to the case is Selebi’s “friend finished and klaar” Glen Agliotti , though it’s the friendship itself that seems “finished and klaar” with Agliotti likely to testify against Selebi, presumably as part of a plea-bargain arrangement. But Selebi also has some ammunition, seemingly drawn directly from the style of defence used by the Jacob Zuma camp, including telephone taps from the same man whose voice on the phone resulted in the NPA dropping charges against Zuma, former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy. City Press reported earlier this year that Selebi was likely to release recorded telephone conversations between, among others, McCarthy and former deputy justice minister Johnny de Lange. Selebi will apparently allege that there was a “conspiracy” against him and that the charges are trumped up – the Zuma ploy. Pre-trial documents list witnesses as including McCarthy, former NPA head Vusi Pikoli and acting head Mokotedi Mpshe, former intelligence chief and ex-home affairs director-general Barry Gilder and top cop Commissioner Rayman Lalla. The case, expected to take between three and six months, could resemble either the hunt for the Loch Ness monster or a protracted but enthralling soap opera.

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